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Deep Brain Stimulator Improves Lives

August 24, 2012, 6:13 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Deep Brain Stimulator Improves Lives

From our television to our garage door, we use remote controls for all kinds of things. But have you ever heard of a controller that regulates the stimulation to your brain? 

Doctors are using deep brain stimulators to help with more illnesses. They've been used to help people with Parkinson's disease for a decade, but now people fighting obesity, depression and different types of tremors are getting help.

Four-year-old Lincoln Fossing is growing up quickly, but he enjoys having his mom nearby to cheer him on. Now, she can do more activities with him than just a few months ago.

"I couldn't hold a book to read to him. There's a lot of things I couldn't do, like holding hands with him or my husband or cutting my own food," Krissy Fossing said.

Krissy suffered a stroke in 2006, which caused her to have severe tremors.

"It was hard, wanting to read to your kid and hold hands with your husband or different things like that," Krissy said.

So Krissy started looking at different options. She had Botox treatments, but it wasn't working very well. That's when she decided to try out a deep brain stimulator.

"It's very exciting because we can manipulate sensation, movement, and behavior by altering the electrical activity of certain regions of the brain," Sanford Neurologist Dr. Wilson Asfora said.

During the procedure, an electrode is implanted to stimulate an area of the brain with a generator placed in the chest.

"This operation was developed initially for people with Parkinson's disease and essential tremor,” Asfora said. “Many times it works in different types of tremors, tremors caused by strokes and head injuries, but not consistently, so I told her there's a good chance we can decrease your tremor, but there's no guarantees,"

But luckily for Krissy and her family, the results were stunning. She can now perform tasks she hasn't been able to for years.

"Reading to Lincoln and holding hands with Travis. I feel more independent, especially cutting my own food and stuff like that," Krissy said.

And Krissy appreciated that independence even more than better.

"After the surgery and implant I can do those things now, which I may have taken for granted before, but now I don't," Krissy said.

Another fact about the surgery that might surprise you, the patient is actually awake during the first part of the procedure while electrodes stimulate different areas of the brain. That gives doctors a better idea of how the stimulation impacts patients.

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